Gender / Long Term Relationships

#TBT: Gift Selection Formula O’Rama

Hey, kittens, it’s ThrowBack Thursday, so here’s a piece that initially ran in February of 2010.


Question to the Sexpert:

“I know it’s a little late to ask now that Valentine’s day is over, but how the hell do you figure out what to get a partner as a present? Is there a formula based on how long you’ve been together, what your intentions are and how much money you make?”


Whether you stand on the side that thinks gift giving is a way to show love through thoughtfulness or you think VDay is just another conspiracy of capitalism to suck the life and cash out of men, you will likely want to buy somebody something at some point. You’re free to follow your own formula based on your income and personal gift giving philosophy, but if you want to know what your partner is expecting, I can help you out.

Just as there are differing gift giving perspectives, there are differing gift receivers. For those of us pragmatic folks who find the idea of having to make room for more “stuff” to be odious, we’d much prefer gifts be meaningful and useful than anything else. For someone who considers expensive gifts to be evidence of love and a means of demonstrating value, you’re gonna need to shell out some cash on some stupid trendy or shiny shit. Now is the time to honestly evaluate and ask yourself, “how shallow and materialistic is my partner?”

Before we get to specifics, let’s look at the overall Gift Selection Formula. In lieu of a flowchart, I’ve prepared for you lovelies a fancy shmancy line graph.  Click twice to embiggen.

As you can see, the calculation of cost and investment involves multiple factors. First, figure out your investment level.

How long have you been together? The longer, the more invested you supposedly would be

What are your future intentions? Here’s where it gets sticky. If you like this person a lot, you theoretically express your affection more than if you only like them a little. That means you say “I love you a thousandy billionty million worth!” as opposed to “hey, you’re all right. You rarely cause me to vomit in my own mouth and I find our conversations interesting enough that the thought of suicide only comes up once or twice per hour.” Conflict arises when the recipient perceives a gift as being not very thoughtful or expensive because it is symbolic of less affection and investment.

How committed are you? Over time we tend to get more lax about gifts, thinking that a 13th valentine’s day is less monumental than a first or third.  But in reality, if you want to be with someone, you ought to give gifts that reflect your gratitude for them being in your life for so long, when odds are good they could have skeedaddled a hot minute ago and found someone who would be glad to buy them something much more appreciated than a Hoops and YoYo talking greeting card.

How hot are you, exactly? Which brings me to this gem. If you know you’re the one getting a real deal in this relationship, your gifts ought to reflect that. The more desirable your partner is in comparison to you, the more you ought to put into picking out the gift. Sorry, but let’s be real. That’s the trade-off. They are way hotter and cooler than you, so you take good care of them.

From there, you consider the cost based on how much money is required, how much time and effort goes into getting it and how much the gift shows that the giver was thinking of you in particular.  The investment and cost are directly related.

So what now?


I Got Mad Skills- If you’re good at some craft, art, or practical skill, use it. Make something handmade, compose a piece just for them. It shows time, effort and specificity.

Pay Attention- is there something your partner mentions they would like to buy for themselves but does not because it’s too impractical? Is there something they look at in the stores for a long time? Go get it!

I’m Tripping- Plan a day trip around your own town or a getaway to a nearby city for the weekend. Personalize it by looking into activities your partner would find fun. This can be expensive or cheap; the point is the effort and thoughtfulness.

Ah, memories- So you got no moneys? Put together a scavenger hunt with each clue having to do with a sweet memory you have together. Write a list of things you love about your partner on pieces of paper and fill a jar with them. Put together a scrap book or album of important photos. It’s creative and romantic.

Good luck, kids.

Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at and

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